Your personal brand is your reputation, your legacy. It is how others know you, introduce you, refer you … or not. Others assign us value based on how they perceive our value to them. When you develop and promote your authentic personal brand, you are directing the legacy you will leave behind, and the reputation you can enjoy today.
Developing a personal brand is only half the task. How you market and communicate your unique and compelling brand (to an audience that will find you relevant) can make or break the best intentions.
Your Brand Does No Good Sitting on a Shelf
The goal of personal branding is to come from a place of authenticity and to market yourself as unique and compelling to an audience that needs to find you relevant.
1. Start, and end, with authenticity. Authenticity is at the root of true personal branding. Otherwise, it’s called “spin.” Peeling back the layers of marketing speak (and the “shoulds”) and getting to authenticity can be tricky… and takes skill, humility and time. It is the most important step in personal branding.
2. There is only one you. Focus on and embrace what makes you unique. A target audience that is looking for someone with your knowledge, opinion and style will find you if you stay true to your core (authentic) values.
3. Focusing your audience is empowering, not limiting. It means you’re talking to people who will get you. Invest the time to develop your target audience: Who holds influence over the opportunities you receive? Who is in a position to give you recognition for your accomplishments? These are clues to your target audience. Focus on both their functional and emotional needs.
4. Social media can be your friend. Get to know this friend slowly and carefully. Have a goal, strategy and game plan in mind before you venture online to collaborate, share and promote. Not all social media — and social networking — venues are created equal.
5. Feedback is a gift. Soliciting feedback is important, understanding it is crucial. Feedback allows us to assess our current and desired brands against perception.
6. Intentional networking is more than handing out business cards. When we network intentionally, we target contacts in areas that will support our goals, and allow us to reciprocate and develop relationships. Data mining, contact management and proactive communications strategies keep intentional networks thriving.
7. Take inventory of your successes – and failures. You can learn from both. In personal branding, we leverage our strengths, and manage our weaknesses. Learn humility and authenticity.
8. Set goals. Measure. Benchmark. Assess. Tweak. Personal branding is a lifelong process. It evolves, requires updating (i.e. wardrobes, logos, credentialing) and needs to be tested against goals and desired results.
9. Enlist resources to help you – ghost writers, coaches, designers, stylists, etc. There are many talented individuals and firms trained to help you bring your personal brand to life.
10. Share. Grow. Pay It Forward. Return the favor and help someone else. When you find something inspiring, share it. When you learn, teach others.
Imagine a world where we’re all empowered in our personal brands! The possibilities are endless!